I love technology. Facebook, Twitter, texting, Skype….. All these tools have improved my professional networking and kept me in contact with friends and family that I otherwise easily lose touch with.
As with most people, I get busy with my family and work and can easily lapse into not really knowing what is going on in the lives of those I care about. Since I started texting and using social networking sites I can make quick contact with friends while I’m standing in line at the grocery store or sitting in a hockey rink.
Despite this great advancement in quantity of contact, I have come to realize that the quality of contact when using technology needs to be balanced with the convenience.
Texting or messaging over Facebook and Twitter, while quick and convenient, cannot match the connection of face to face contact.
When I am talking with a friend face to face there are elements to the communication that are intangible but so essential to connection.
When we laugh together, grasp each other’s hands, share a meal or simply sit in each other’s presence we bond on a primal level that electronic communication cannot replace. All of our senses are engaged, we read each other’s body language, facial expression and tone of voice. We connect on a level that is intangible yet essential to our human nature.
Even when I use Skype to “see” a friend while I talk with them, there are elements missing in this form of communication. While I can hear the tone of their voice or interpret a look or gesture onscreen, neither can replace the warmth and bonding of in-person communication.
What I have come to realize is that I need to be deliberate in maintaining my relationships. I need to choose the giving of time to maintain relationship with those whom I value and keep in my inner circle. When weekends role around or weeknights when I am feeling “done” with the day, I realize that I can’t just rely on social media and texting for catching up with those I care about. That the giving of time to an important friendship can actually “recharge” my batteries, keep me engaged with the world of another and balance my preoccupation with my own life and work. And when it comes to time, I am learning that what can take a half hour of back and forth by text because I am distracted by other things, can take a mere 5 minutes over coffee.
When face to face we understand each other more clearly and receive a deeper sense of who the other person really is. And only in face to face time can we really show that we are listening to each other.
I love the relationships that I’m able to build using technology but nothing beats real life face-to-face.